PM Netanyahu, speaking Monday in New Orleans at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, said Israel "appreciated" President Obama's leadership in enhancing sanctions over the summer. However, he said, "we have yet to see any sign that the tyrants of Iran" have rolled back a suspected effort to obtain a nuclear device.
The greatest danger facing Israel and the world is the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran threatens to annihilate Israel. It denies the Holocaust. It sponsors terror. It confronts America in Afghanistan and Iraq. It dominates Lebanon and Gaza. It establishes beachheads in Arabia and in Africa. It even spreads its influence into this hemisphere, into South America.
Now, this is what Iran is doing without nuclear weapons. Imagine what it would do with them.
Imagine the devastation that its terror proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas and others, would wreak under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.
This is why Israel appreciates President Obama's successful efforts to have the UN Security Council adopt new sanctions against Iran. It values American efforts to successfully mobilize other countries to pass tough sanctions of their own. There is no doubt that these sanctions are putting strong economic pressures on the Iranian regime.
The Israeli leader said containment against Iran would not work.
But we have yet to see any signs that the tyrants of Tehran are reconsidering their pursuit of nuclear weapons. The only time that Iran suspended its nuclear program was for a brief period in 2003 when the regime believed it faced a credible threat of military action against it. And the simple paradox is this: if the international community, led by the United States, hopes to stop Iran’s nuclear program without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action. Containment will not work against Iran. It won’t work with a brazen regime that accuses America of bombing its own cities on 9/11, openly calls for Israel’s annihilation, and is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
When faced with such a regime, the only responsible policy is to prevent it from developing atomic bombs in the first place. The bottom line is this: Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped. Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest danger we face.
Netanyahu also called attacks against the legitimacy of Israel one of the greatest threats to the Jewish people, pointing as an example to protesters from the Jewish Voice for Peace inside the auditorium who interrupted him several times during his speech. Audience members cheered as the protesters were forced from the room.
The old hatred against the Jewish people is now focused against the Jewish state. If in the past Jews were demonized, singled out or denied the rights that were automatically granted to others, today in many quarters Israel is demonized, singled out and denied the rights automatically granted to other nations, first and foremost the right of self-defense.
For too many, Israel is guilty until proven guilty. The greatest success of our detractors is when Jews start believing that too – we’ve seen that today.
The prime minister said the authors of the Goldstone report on the Gaza war owed Israel an apology for condemning the army, saying that it caused a high percentage of civilian deaths, in the wake of Hamas admitting that 700 of its militants died in the conflict -- meaning that more than half of the Palestinian war casualties were enemy combatants.
Last week, Hamas finally admitted that over 700 of its fighters in Gaza were killed by the IDF during that war. This is precisely what the Israeli army said all along – that roughly 50% of the casualties of the war were Hamas terrorists.
The authors of the Goldstone Report owe the Israeli army an apology. And all those who supported and helped spread this libel owe the State of Israel an apology. The best way to counter lies is with the truth. That is why I commend your decision to establish the Israel Action Network and dedicate resources to fight this battle for truth. We must fight these lies and slanders together to ensure that truth prevails.
During his speech, Netanyahu stressed that peace can only be achieved through negotiations:
Israelis want to see that the Palestinians are as committed as they are to ending the conflict once and for all. They want to know that just as we are ready to recognize a state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians are ready to recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish people.
Israel also wants a secure peace. We do not want to vacate more territory only to see Iran walk in and fire thousands of rockets at our cities. That is exactly what happened after we left Lebanon and Gaza. We don’t want to see rockets and missiles streaming into a Palestinian state and placed on the hills above Tel Aviv and the hills encircling Jerusalem. If Israel does not maintain a credible security presence in the Jordan Valley for the foreseeable future, this is exactly what will happen.
I will not let that happen.
We do not want security on paper. We want security on the ground. Real security. I am willing to make mutual compromises for a genuine peace with the Palestinians, but I will not gamble with the security of the Jewish state. Palestinian leaders who say they want to live peacefully alongside Israel should sit down and negotiate peace with Israel. They should stop placing preconditions and start negotiating peace. The Palestinians may think they can avoid negotiations. They may think that the world will dictate Palestinian demands to Israel. I firmly believe that will not happen because I am confident that friends of Israel, led by the United States, will not let that happen. There is only one path to peace – that is through a negotiated settlement.
The Prime minister concluded his speech by bringing out the challanges that are ahead of us:
As we continue to build a modern and democratic Israel and as we seek peace with all our neighbors, we must also warn the world about this formidable peril. In standing up for modernity against medievalism, the Jewish people and the Jewish state play a vital role in securing our common civilization. And by helping dispel the shadows of a dark despotism, we can truly fulfill our destiny to be a beacon of light and progress unto all the nations.